A new course for ex-Par prez

Less than a month after exiting as Paramount president, Donald De Line is headed to Warner Bros. for a three-year, first-look production deal.

Deal had not closed Thursday, and it was unclear whether De Line will bring any of the projects he developed during his five-year stint as a producer on the Paramount lot before being named president in late 2003.

De Line brings a resume with a specialty in middle-of-the-road comedies. He also produced Par’s remake of “The Italian Job,” which was one of the studio’s few bright spots in 2003, becoming its top grosser that year with $106 million domestically.

De Line produced Par buddy comedy “Without a Paddle” and co-produced with Scott Rudin the remake of “The Stepford Wives.”

Prior to joining Paramount as a producer in 1998, De Line spent eight years at Touchstone Pictures and was named president in 1993. During that stint, he oversaw “Pretty Woman,” “Sister Act,” “Phenomenon,” “Ransom,” “Con-Air,” “Armageddon” and “The Waterboy.”

During his 14-month tenure as Paramount president, De Line was credited with injecting energy and enthusiasm into a studio that had underperformed since 2000 and with altering the perception that Par had become the town’s most cautious studio. He and former studio chief Sherry Lansing assembled Paramount’s upcoming summer slate, which appears relatively strong given such entries as “The Longest Yard,” “War of the Worlds,” “The Honeymooners” and “Bad News Bears.”

De Line exited the Par presidency in the wake of the March 22 announcement that Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman was in negotiations to come aboard. In addition to rumors about going to Warner Bros., he’d been rumored to be heading for Sony due to his longstanding friendship with studio chief Amy Pascal.

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